Day # 1 – Concert Choir met at 6:30 a.m. to travel to Philadelphia. They toured Tindley Temple and learned about the Charles Tindley, pastor and hymn writer, and Marian Anderson, African American opera and Gospel singer. Then they visited Mother Bethel AME Church, the Liberty Bell, and Arch Street Quaker Meeting House. In the afternoon singers participated in a Gospel music masterclass with Temple University Phd student Daniel Jackson, served with the Resurrection Philadelphia West Campus in partnership with University City Hospitality Coalition, shared an evening concert with this congregation, and then traveled to Quakertown to stay overnight at Camp Men-O-Lan in cabins.

At the Tindley Temple, we heard interesting stories of Marian Anderson and Charles Tindley. Then, we heard a piece from an opera singer who is a Marian Anderson scholar. Later on, at the Mother Bethel AME Church, we got to see a museum of all the people that were important to the church and its beliefs.

The choral masterclass with Daniel Jackson was very fun, energizing, and helpful. We worked on two Gospel pieces: “He Is Marvelous” and “The Storm Is Passing Over.” It was a fun learning opportunity.

There were about 10 people at our evening concert but we still gave it our all. Also, before the concert, we helped weed in the area, sort clothes, and other things for the University City Hospitality Coalition. 

Ellie, 6th grade singer

Even though the weather was hot, it was so fun to see different churches and to learn about many people’s stories like Marian Anderson. We learned how music and singing influenced her life. I loved seeing the Liberty Bell and listening to history stories while we ate lunch. 

Our masterclass was the best class I think I’ve ever experienced. We all came into it tired and hungry, but because of the energy Daniel Jackson brought with him, we all left with way more energy and a bounce in our step. He gave us many valuable tools to carry into our songs. Even though the audience was small, it was fun to sing with our guest piano player. We faced some challenges but we overcame them and did awesome!

Rosalind, 8th grade singer

Day #2 – After breakfast at Camp Men-O-Lan, the choir traveled to the Philadelphia Praise Center (Indonesian Mennonite Church) to meet Pastor Aldo and learn about the church’s history. Youth and young adult members from Philadelphia Praise Center church went with the group to the East Asian Market for lunch and exploration. Then Concert Choir shared informal singing at Clark Park where an MCCL family has a market stand. In the afternoon singers performed a concert at The Willows at Living Branches. The evening was full of games, smores, canoeing, etc at Camp Men-O-Lan.

Today was an exciting day! We woke up and got ready for the day ahead. When our group was prepared to go we hurried to eat the delicious breakfast the camp staff provided. Next, we boarded the bus to travel to Philadelphia Praise Center, an Indonesian Mennonite church in South Philadelphia, where we met Pastor Aldo and other smiling faces. He then shared the history of the church and that they have outgrown their old building. Now, they have purchased a new building to worship in.

Then, we climbed onto the bus and drove to our next location, the East Asian Market. At the market we gathered with our chaperone groups. Within these groups of 5-8 singers and 1-2 chaperones, we looked at all the delicious food options for lunch. In my group it took us a little bit to decide what to eat. I ended up choosing a pineapple smoothie, some chicken, and sticky rice. It was absolutely amazing! I would highly recommend visiting the East Asian Market next time you’re in Philly. After we ate lunch, we congregated at the bus and went to our next stop, The Willows of Living Branches, a retirement home. We arrived a bit late and we weren’t warmed up, so the audience graciously let us warmup before we sang. The concert when really well, even though we were all super tired, we still had some energy to put into glorifying God through singing. When we finished our concert the retirement home provided snacks for us. Then we all boarded the bus once again and traveled to Camp Men-O-Lan, our “homebase” for this weekend. Once we arrived we got to choose an activity to do: go on the lake or play gaga ball. As I’m writing this, we are about to eat dinner (hotdogs and some sort of healthy thing). Then the rest of the evening will be games, a campfire, and definitely singing. Today was a really fun day and I am excited for all the adventures tomorrow.

Collette, 8th grade singer

Day #3 – The singers traveled back to Philadelphia to share music with the Philadelphia Indonesian Praise Center for two services. The congregation blessed the singers with an amazing Indonesian lunch before traveling back to Lancaster.